I think I confuse people at the yard where I keep Echo! I rode her on Tuesday evening after work and she was not particularly cooperative. There were plenty of reasons why this was the case, but nevertheless, she was not overly willing. The first reason was that it was only the second time she had been ridden since her time off. In addition to this, I was riding in the evening, when she thought that she should be out in the field. It was dark, I was riding outside with the floodlights, it was extremely cold, windy and then started to rain lightly too. Not exactly perfect conditions for riding a young horse!
When I got on she shot off at an extended walk, pacing round the arena like her life depended on it. She felt like a coiled spring and didn't want to concentrate at all. I like to give her plenty of time on a long rein to warm up, but I had to take a contact in case she found anything to shy at - we would have ended up at the other side of the arena very quickly! I worked for a long time on walk and halt transitions - we had quite a fight, as stopping was not high on her list of priorities, but eventually she settled. I read an interesting article in a magazine recently, which said that horses think very well in walk, a little in trot, and very badly in canter. I thought it would be best to stay in walk for a while in order to get her brain engaged.
It didn't really work. When I went into trot she zoomed round, falling out through her outside shoulders and shooting away from my leg. Her little legs were going at break-neck speed and nothing I could do would slow her down! In fact, it was only persistent work in that session that made her slow down. I rode her for about an hour, insisting on a lower head carriage and a longer stride, until I got what I asked for. We ended the session exhausted and very wet - from sweat and rain. The positives from this are that she got there eventually and produced some relaxed, rhythmical trot work. The downside is that she lives out and has a long-ish winter coat still, so I had to wait for about an hour and a half for her to dry before I could turn her out - not much fun when everyone has gone home and I knew I had stacks of work to do. No one could understand why I didn't just stop earlier - but I am a perfectionist - I can't leave something unfinished!
What baffled them more was that I then rode her last night and she was fantastic from the moment I got on. We were still outside, but she was focused and willing from the start. Her trot was lovely; she was very responsive laterally from my legs and I was able to really channel her energy - it was a pleasure to ride her. So I stopped! I rode her for about twenty minutes in total, including warming up and cooling off - she didn't break into a sweat and we were all happy. Somebody asked me why I had stopped so soon and I tried to explain that she didn't need to do any more, and they said, 'Don't you like riding her then?' I started to explain that I see riding her far more as a training exercise for her and much less as a hobby for me - and that I get my pleasure out of her achieving something and going well. I didn't feel that I needed to ride her for longer. It really made me think about the different goals people have as riders and horse trainers.